I got into an argument the other day when I made the bold statement that “selfie takers are modern-day narcissists.” I couldn’t understand why a person would take so many pictures of themselves, sometimes in the most unglamorous of states, and put them up on social media for all to see.
The barrage of protests that I got had a common thread. The protestors could not understand why it was so bad to indulge in this practice. Some did not know the meaning of the word “narcissism.” “Everybody is doing it, so why not I?” was a common protest; my counter, “And if everyone is jumping off a cliff, why not you?”
On deeper reflection, I realized that they were probably right. Everyone wants to be noticed, so why not they? And in this info-crazed universe where the proverbial “15 seconds of fame” has shrivelled to the “nanosecond of screen time,” the selfie is a great way to attract attention, and the more bizarre and dishevelled you are in the picture, the better.
The media mentioned recently that our Toronto mayor (whose name need not be mentioned for his worldwide fame has been guaranteed by the talk shows), was indulging in one continuous selfie with his antics in public and private life. I have to hand it to him; he has name recognition over the dozen or so other unknown candidates in the upcoming election. He might even get re-elected, purely by those like me who draw a blank at the polling booth and recognize his name on the ballot over 12 other nobodies – “better the known devil than the unknown one.”
Let’s face it, we let this happen. The moment we opened up personal social media pages, personal websites, blogs, or decided to sell our product on line, we had to leave a photograph as a calling card. That was Selfie Generation 1.
Then the technology made it easier to take pictures on the fly and upload them to the cloud of gawkers out there. And it became a necessity (I’m not sure how or why) to let the whole world know what we were eating, wearing, or doing at any given moment. We did not know why we had to do it, but we just felt compelled to. Enter Selfie Generation 2, the present one.
I am wondering what would happen if some clever technician is able to take our selfies off their public perches and manipulate them to give us donkey ears or monkey tails, or embed us into compromising positions that we may never want to be in, and then replace us on those very perches for the world to see? Would we all be beating a hasty path to retrieve our selfies and delete them as they keep going viral and proliferating around us? Or would we give up the battle and, like Narcissus, drown in the pool? Enter Selfie Generation 3 – I hope it never comes!